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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Intoxicating garlic


The green garlic that I got from Siena Farm at the Copley Square farmer's market yesterday is amazing. And it made me wonder: Why haven't I cooked with this before? Better late than never. I've used the garlic scapes, those little shoots that come off the top, but the whole stalk is beautifully infused with the flavor of mild garlic, or perhaps garlic-flavored leeks. (The vegetable looks like leeks, too, which is why Siena puts that word in quote marks on the label at the market.)

Not that there's anything wrong with the sharp flavor of the mature plant, but the subtler taste of the spring version is intoxicating. And that's raw. I had thought about braising them, or perhaps roasting them whole under chicken, but after I scoured the Internet and my cookbooks for ideas and felt the chill in the air, I settled on a very simple soup. After reading suggestions that the darkest part of the stalks shouldn't be used -- but can be treated separately by blanching -- I decided to combine it with the Swiss chard and saute them together. Both dishes worked well, but it's the soup I'll come back to again and again (or at least as long as I can get this spring delicacy at the farmer's market).


Green garlic soup
Serves 2

4 stalks green garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Clean and trim the garlic stalks. Remove the darkest green part of leaves and discard or save for another use. Slice the remainder of the stalks into thin rings.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the green garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-6 minutes or until softened and lightly browned.
3. Add the chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until garlic is very tender. Season with salt and pepper, spoon into bowls, and top with cheese.

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